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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. Situational factors, such as alcohol use by the man or woman, provocative clothing, and dating behaviors e. We also critique the current measurement strategies and introduce a model of perception that more closely maps on to important theoretical questions in this area. A clearer understanding of sexual perception errors and the etiology of these errors may serve to guide sexual-assault prevention programs toward more effective strategies.

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Sexual bargaining is a complicated, dynamic social process by which potential partners communicate interest or lack of interest in pursuing a sexual relationship with each other. However, among a sub-group of individuals, sexual misperception may be part of a constellation of individual and situational variables that increase the probability of more socially problematic behavior such as sexual coercion.

One complication in understanding sexual coercion is that very different trajectories may lead to the same negative outcome, sexual violence. The current review constrains the question to sexually coercive behavior, between known partners, that is not premeditated, but likely purposeful in the moment.

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Note that the definition includes legally defined rape, but also more broadly includes coercion without physical force and sexual activity without penetration. Heterosexual misperception can be construed broadly as decoding errors in any element of a sexual bargaining process, from early interest to interpretation of consent. In order to map the current state of this inquiry, we review gender differences in perception of sexual intent, individual differences related to sexual coercion risk and situational factors influencing sexual misperception.

Based on interviews with sexually aggressive men, it was suggested that they are hyper-sensitive to cues of sexual interest, including those that were not intended to be perceived as interest Kanin, This misperception of the degree to which a woman is interested in pursuing a sexual encounter was thought to lead the man to be frustrated and confused when the woman later unexpectedly turns down his sexual overtures, and, in turn, to motivate the man to react with aggression Kanin.

However, little empirical work was conducted on this hypothesis until Abbey began to investigate gender differences in the perception of sexual intent. Beginning this review by focusing on gender differences allows us to place perceptual deficits displayed by sexually coercive men in a normative context. By providing a baseline of representative sexual decoding, we will be in a better position to identify those attributes or deficits unique to sexually coercive men.

This, in turn, speeds the discovery of the underlying mechanisms and etiology of sexually coercive behavior. Perhaps the verbal and non-verbal behaviors that women consider friendliness are categorized quite differently by men. To test this possibility, Abbey measured gender differences in reported perception of sexual intent in a laboratory setting.

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Two male—female dy participated in each session. Members of a conversing dyad were instructed to discuss their experiences at college for 5 min, while members of an observing dyad surreptitiously viewed the interaction. All participants rated the degree to which each member of the conversing dyad behaved in a flirtatious, seductiveand promiscuous way. Although men and women viewed the same social interaction, gender differences in the evaluation of the event emerged. Men, whether they were observing or participating in the conversation, were more likely than women to perceive the women in the conversing dyad as more sexually interested in their partners, and rated them higher on the sexuality-related adjectives.

They also rated the male conversationalists higher on sexuality-related adjectives than women rated them. Abbey and her colleagues consistently found that men, when compared with women, rated female targets as conveying more sexual intent. Edmonson and Conger replicated the effect using the same methodology used in the Abbey paper, as well as in impoverished rating conditions such as audiotapes or photographs of men and women interacting.

In addition, when participants rated written descriptions of behaviors that might occur during a dating encounter e. The effect first demonstrated within the laboratory extends outside of the laboratory. It is important to note that some of these investigations confounded the effect of gender with the effect of self versus other ratings. The raters differ not only by gender, but also by whether they are judging themselves or someone else. To separate the layer of self-other distinctions from the primary gender effect, most investigators have used methodologies that require male and female participants to rate external interactions rather than an interaction in which they are a participant.

Note that among the three investigations failing to replicate the effect, the sample size for one study was below this threshold Quackenbush, To understand the variation in effect sizes across studies, it may be of interest to consider plausible moderators in a more formal meta-analysis after a sufficient of studies have been conducted. The measurement strategies common in investigations of gender differences in perception of sexual intent are often directly translated into investigations of sexual coercion.

For this reason, we can anticipate that any methodological problems inherent in gender difference investigations of sexual perception may also be present in the sexual coercion literature. Thus, by providing a critical review of study de, we may foresee the challenges facing sexual coercion investigators. Two primary methodological problems confuse the theoretical interpretation of gender differences in sexual perception. First, the difficulty in accessing a gold standard for correct perception confuses interpretation of observed differences in perception, and second, Woman want real sex Adams Massachusetts source or etiology of observed differences has rarely been investigated.

Clearly, there is no reason to exclude prematurely the possibility that women are prone to under-perceive sexual intent in other women. Heterosexual women certainly would have less experience in recognizing and less motivation to recognize the subtle cues another woman may use to al availability, and hence, may be more likely to miss als of interest that heterosexual men are tuned precisely to perceive. Quite apart from questions about the appropriate gold standard, and perhaps more important, is the inability of current measurement strategies to distinguish between multiple theoretical models that may for participant task performance.

A sensitivity explanation for gender differences argues that men are not able to distinguish among subtle affective cues. A bias explanation argues that compared to women, men require fewer impelling cues prior to labeling a behavior sexual interest, that is, their threshold for labeling a woman as sexually interested is lower.

This explanation predicts that in some instances, men will mistake friendliness for sexual interest, and in other instances, they will mistake sexual interest for friendliness. Others, such as Koukounas and Letchargue that both men and women are equally capable of discriminating the same cues, but men are biased to perceive sexual interest, that is, they have a lower decisional threshold for labeling a behavior as sexual interest. Fortunately, a system of parsing sensitivity differences from decisional processes or bias, which exists independently of presumptions of gold standards and relies instead on relative differences, has been long available in cognitive Woman want real sex Adams Massachusetts.

Treat et al. That is, compared to women, men may find the task of discriminating cues indicative of sexual interest from cues indicative of platonic interest to be a genuinely more difficult task than women find it to be, and thus, are likely to make more identification errors in both directions. Although not necessarily couched in the same terms, some researchers have suggested that the above gender effect may be due to insensitivity on the part of male observers. Relative sensitivity differences between men and women map on to ideas of errors due to an inability to discriminate between of behavior.

Cues that are perceived at the ends of the continuum are seen clearly as friendliness or sexual interest, while cues perceived near the midpoint of the continuum are perceived to be more ambiguous. Notice that the two distributions overlap. Some women on the extreme right tail of the friendliness distribution emit platonic interest cues that are perceived as sexual interest. Similarly, some women in the extreme left tail of the sexual interest distribution exhibit sexual interest cues that are perceived as friendliness. Distributions such as those in Fig.

In contrast, the distributions in Fig. An individual whose perceptual distributions of friendliness and sexual interest are characterized by Fig. A sensitivity explanation for gender differences in sexual perception essentially argues that Fig. Normal probability distributions representing perception of friendliness and sexual interest. Panel a depicts the perceptual distributions of an individual who is relatively insensitive to the difference between friendliness and sexual interest. Panel b depicts the perceptual distributions of a more sensitive individual. Relative insensitivity to differences between friendliness and sexual interest cues on the part of men, as compared to women, is not always embraced as a probable explanation.

If examples of friendliness and sexual interest are sampled from the extremes of the continuum, then the cues will be particularly discriminable and null findings may be attributable to a ceiling effect. If examples of friendliness and sexual interest are sampled from a uniform distribution, then measurement of perceptual sensitivity on a continuous scale is possible.

Thus, differences in relative sensitivity to affect cues continue to be a viable explanation for gender differences in the perception of sexual intent. Men and women may process and encode the same behavioral cues, but men may require less evidence of sexual interest before being willing to label the behavior as indicating sexual interest, whereas women may require more evidence before making the same decision.

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For example, both men and women might perceive the friendliness and sexual interest as overlapping slightly. An individual with the task of deciding whether a woman is displaying sexual interest will switch from labeling behavior friendliness to labeling behavior as sexual interest at some point on the continuum.

An individual who switches at point A, as labeled in Fig. Similarly, women displaying affect above point A will be perceived as sexually interested women. If the two distributions overlap, some mistakes will be inevitable; notice that the extreme tail of the friendly distribution falls above point A and those friendly women will be incorrectly categorized as sexually interested. In addition, a small portion of the extreme tail of the sexually interested distribution falls below point A and will be mistakenly labeled friendly.

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Now imagine that a second person switches from labeling behavior friendly to sexual interest at a different point along the continuum. This second person is much more conservative and changes his or her decision at point B, which is shifted toward the sexual interest end of the continuum.

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This person needs women to display more convincing Woman want real sex Adams Massachusetts interest before he or she perceives the woman as belonging to the sexually interested distribution. However, the shift also means that a much larger proportion of the sexual interest distribution falls below the decisional threshold.

This person will make many more mistakes in which he or she calls sexually interested women friendly. Now imagine that point A is the decisional threshold of a man, and point B is the decisional threshold of a woman. The difference in decisional thresholds would result in the man reporting more sexual interest in ambiguous situations, and the woman reporting less sexual interest in ambiguous situations.

If the behavior falls above the male threshold, but below the female threshold, men and women will disagree about the appropriate interpretation. Decision criterion points are depicted to illustrate decisional bias. It should be noted that SDT is a performance model. To obtain SDT parameter estimates, it is necessary for participants to complete a task in which they classify the affect of actors across multiple trials. As opposed to many arenas in clinical and social psychology which have relied heavily on self-report measures to assess the construct of interest, many investigators in sexual misperception already have required participants to provide a judgment of sexual interest in a real situation or in a photograph.

Future research that makes use of SDT or an alternative model may be able to do a better job of delineating the source of disagreement between men and women. In addition, just as distinguishing the source of error may help to organize thinking about gender differences, it also may prove to be a useful framework from which to approach sexual perception as it relates to sexual aggression. Many of the individual differences that predict sexual misperception are closely related to sexual coercion risk.

For example, men who generally reject sex-role stereotypes and perceive sexual relationships as mutual do not differ from women in their perception of sexual intent communicated via mundane dating behaviors such as eye contact Kowalski, Only men who strongly endorse sex-role stereotypes and perceive sexual relationships as exploitive and manipulative perceive more sexual intent than women. Thus, the extreme group of men, not all men, may be responsible for the gender effect. Quackenbush failed to find that gender role sex-typed versus androgynous or undifferentiated moderated the gender effect, but the sample sizes were so small as to make detection of all but a large effect unlikely.

As noted above, performance-based evaluations of sexual perception allow the parsing of sensitivity from bias explanations for individual differences in perception of sexual intent. Decisional processes also played a role in predicting the degree to which men endorsed rape myths; however, insensitivity was more clearly and reliably linked to sexual coercion risk and history.

Men who more strongly endorsed rape myths were more likely to be swayed by provocative clothing and assume that provocatively dressed women were also sexually interested.

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They are also more likely than non-coercive men to believe that a woman with whom they are interacting is behaving in a sexually expressive manner Shea, A ceiling effect may explain non-ificant group differences in this case. Koralewski and Conger concede that the failure to replicate may be due to small sample sizes, but argue that the small absolute differences between groups indicate a small effect size that has limited clinical ificance.

While they are correct in noting that the effect sizes associated with relevant individual differences in sexual coercion history may be small, small effects are not necessarily clinically inificant. If replicated, this preview into the process that le to inaccuracy may have important intervention implications.

It suggests that it may be important to provide training to high-risk men to increase the discriminability of such as platonic and sexual interest. Even those individuals most prone to sexual coercion are Woman want real sex Adams Massachusetts likely to be aggressive in all situations. The behavior of interest is likely to be quite rare among dating and sexual experiences. For this reason, if sexual misperception is an important predictor of sexual coercion risk, it becomes important to understand more precisely the situations in which sexual misperception is more likely, and those situations in which misperception is less likely, as these situational cues may have implications for prevention efforts.

While most of the research examining situational predictors of sexual misperception has not focused on the effect among sexually coercive men in particular, it may be that those factors relevant to misperception in the general population have the strongest effect among sexually coercive men. In any case, as it is clear that sexual misperception is a risk factor for sexual coercion, any factor that increases or decreases the probability of sexual misperception deserves attention.

The situational variables that have received the most attention to date are clothing style, dating variables, alcohol use, and attractiveness. Of interest here, college men become less able to distinguish friendliness from other affective cues when a woman is dressed provocatively; however, their ability to effectively decode sexual interest improves.

Thus, while they are less likely to incorrectly categorize a woman who is aling sexual interest, they are more likely to incorrectly categorize a woman who meant to al only friendliness Farris et al. Errors in judging sexual interest did not increase with provocative clothing, only errors in judging friendliness i.

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